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Labor Day Protests in Philippines: Enough of grinding poverty and repression

Apr. 30, 2007

MANILA — The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan will join thousands of workers in the annual May 1 Labor Day rally tomorrow at the Liwasang Bonifacio, as it called on the police and military not to sabotage the peaceful protests.

Bayan forces will march from the Plaza Miranda in Quiapo going to the Liwasang Bonifacio at around 12 noon. They will converge with other groups from various assembly areas.

“The May 1 rally is peaceful expression of our outrage over grinding poverty and escalating political repression. It is within our rights to go out and protest. The military in Metro Manila communities better not prevent people from joining the protests. That would be another violation of the people’s rights,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Tomorrow’s rally will be a ‘shout out’ against the Arroyo regime and its rabid minions,” Reyes added.

Reyes said that the alert levels issued by the AFP and PNP may be used to prevent people from massing up in Metro Manila communities or may be used to block marches going to Liwasang Bonifacio.

“May 1 may be a dry run operation for the troops deployed around Metro Manila communities. These soldiers may attempt to prevent residents from leaving their communities and stop them from joining rallies. This has been an objective long ago articulated by the AFP NCR Command,” Reyes said.

Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino previously said that the presence of the troops in Metro Manila communities was meant to arrest the “culture of street protests” that destabilize the country.

Pressing issues cannot be denied

Bayan said that the current state of poverty and repression in the Philippines can no longer be denied or concealed by Palace statistics.

“There is resistance to the Arroyo administration because people are growing hungry. This resistance is being met with extrajudicial killings, abductions and militarization of communities. It is no wonder that Arroyo allies have yet to make any breakthrough in the current elections. People simply do not want the perpetuation of this kind of government,” Reyes said.

Bayan also challenged the Opposition to advance more “pro-worker and pro-people” programs. “The opposition must also consider and advocate the passage of the P125 wage increase. This is an important issue and electoral yardstick for workers. Is the Opposition up to the challenge of championing a just wage increase for the workers?” Reyes asked.

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  • http://none roguerem

    If you must protest, don’t block the flow of traffic in Metro Manila’s main avenues or streets. Otherwise, you would be stepping on my rights too.

  • Chuck

    roguerem, you sound like you never had a job that paid the minimum wage (silver spoon nin your mouth, eh?). keep in mind that practically all the benefits wage earners enjoy now, such as they are, were forced from employers by these unionists and rallies that you so despite. if it were not for these demonstrations, employers would never grant salaries increases and benefits. so before you complain about getting stuck in traffic because of the rallies, think about the millions of minimum wage earners out there who suffer, who are hungry, who live in hovels, who are stuck in traffic, too, because employers and this government continue to deny them decent wages and benefits.

  • mark

    What’s wrong with roguerem’s comment? I agree that the workers of this country have a right to a decent life, but I also agree that roguerem also has the right to get to work on time. He just sounds like he’s just complaining about the unnecessary traffic that rallies produce, not necessarily the essence of the rally itself.

  • Chuck

    ah, but by focusing the complaint on the traffic, roguerem — and now, you, mark — actually complain about the essence of the rally itself. because if you see the wisdom and necessity of such a rally, why would you complain about a little inconvenience? you bitch about the traffic — of all the things that you can bitch about! — rallies create and you bitch about the rally itself. that’s how it is, no matter how you cut it.

  • mark

    So you’re saying the purpose of a rally is to cause traffic? I thought it was to create awareness and win the heart/support of people?

    Haven’t there been rallies in the past (not just in the Philippines) that have been effective but did not cause unnecessary traffic? What is the reason for causing traffic? To gain the attention of the public? But by doing so isn’t the rally causing irritation thus defeating part of its purpose which is, again, to cause awareness AND win the hearts/support of people?

    And who’s to say that the issue of traffic is unimportant? Doesn’t traffic cause a major delay in the daily operations of business? Probably the same businesses that the workers are coaxing to give them better pay. How can you be so sure that traffic is just “a little inconvenience?” Traffic jams are serious problems to any community since it has the potential to disrupt access to basic services as well (e.g. health, education, etc.).

    Look, I’m not denouncing rallies because of the traffic they create. I’m just not keen on the traffic part. The essence of rallies, on the other hand, I don’t have a problem with. We all have the right to bargain for better pay.

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